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Windows 7: Seagate Tries for Hybrid Hard Drives Again With Momentus XT

24 May 2010   #1

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult x64 - SP1/ Windows 8 Pro x64
Seagate Tries for Hybrid Hard Drives Again With Momentus XT

Complete redesign combines speed with affordability

The company calls it a Solid State Hybrid Drive, and it will be available exclusively in a 2.5-inch form factor. There are 250, 320, and 500GB models, all of which feature 32MB of DRAM cache and a 4GB single-layer cell NAND flash cache. There will unfortunately not be any 6Gbps SATA support, despite the XT moniker.

The secret sauce this time is what Seagate calls "Adaptive Memory". The firm has developed new algorithms based on their years of research and producing firmware for regular drives. These algorithms monitor data access transactions over time, and will place a copy of the most frequently accessed data (such as Windows system files) onto flash storage. A table also keeps track and counts of how frequently data is used in order to prioritize it for retention and caching.

This is similar in concept to Microsoft's ReadyBoost, but uses much faster SLC rather than the sluggish commodity NAND that ended up being used in USB flash drives and SD cards. The algorithms are also much more advanced, as is the garbage collection and firmware. Seagate developed its own proprietary NAND flash controller specifically for the Momentus XT.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 May 2010   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1

Seagate Momentus XT 500GB ST95005620AS Review


When it comes to storage solutions for your computer, you have to choose between fast speeds with a solid state drive, or a slower, yet, high capacity mechanical drive. Sure you could buy an SSD for your boot drive and an HDD for storage, but that involves spending quite a pretty penny. On the other hand, what if you want something fast and high capacity for your netbook which only one has drive bay? Now you can have the best of both worlds.

Seagate has had this drive in the works for a while now, and has finally taken the covers off of it. This new drive introduces radically new technology that bridges the gap between slower mechanical drives and the speed of the SSD’s. Seagate named this series Momentus XT and it is what they call a Hybrid Drive. The Momentus XT uses both the traditional HDD platters for maximum storage in addition to a small internal SSD for increased access speed.

So what does this mean for the end user? With the Momentus XT, Seagate has developed a special algorithm that is called ”Adaptive Memory Technology”, which analyzes the users computing habits, such as if the user frequently opens Photoshop documents. The technology takes the most accessed files that Photoshop uses and stores them on the fast, 4GB SSD integrated on the drive. This allows the user to start the program faster because the data is pulled from the SSD, instead of having to spin the hard drive platters to seek the data. As the needs of the user changes, so does the data stored on the SSD of the drive. This also works for files pertaining to booting the operating system, email clients, games and more. The design of a traditional hard drive and the quickness of an SSD give a perfect balance between speed and storage space.


The Seagate Momentus XT has been dubbed around the net as a SSD killer. Would I call it that? No, but what I would call it an HDD killer. The Momentus XT beats out traditional hard drives in just about every test. This drive is the perfect stepping stone for those who want the increased speed that a SSD provides, but require more space than current SSD's can deliver (and be cost effective). The best part of the Momentus XT is that with the intelligence of the hardware, the more you work with it, the more it will learns your habits, and the faster it gets. There is no other drive currently on the market that does this and does it well.

With the scores aside, benchmark numbers aren’t always truly representative of what you see in everyday performance. One measure of this drive’s speed is the boot up process. My PC starts up 13 seconds faster than with the traditional hard drive. In addition to the faster boot, it's more efficient at running frequently used programs such as Photoshop, games and day to day applications, making them nice and snappy.

I was fortunate enough to actually start testing the Hybrid back in the alpha stages of its design and I quickly came to realize the potential it had. In fact, I received the Momentus XT alpha drive before ever touching an SSD for review and I must admit, I prefer the capacity and snappiness of the Momentus XT drive to any of the SSD's that I own. Now that I have two of them in a RAID setup, I would not spend the extra money on another SSD. As long as I can have the speed and capacity of the Momentus XT, I'll pick one over an SSD every time.

Because of the nature of this type of technology, I took the opportunity to speak with some of the Seagate engineers during the testing and one question that was eating at my mind is: "What happens if the SSD portion of the drive fails?" Everyone with important documents and photos does not want to be left fighting for our data. The engineers assured me that in the unlikely event the SSD fails, then the algorithm accounts for the loss and it only stores the data on the physical drive. They also commented that the information stored on the SSD portion is mirrored on the physical drive as well, so no data will be lost with a failure of the SSD. In essence the device would act just like any other mechanical drive from that point forward.

Right now, a 128GB SSD will run you an about $300, but the Seagate Momentus XT will have a MSRP of ~ $156 for the 500GB drive we tested here. So for the price of one 128GB SSD, you can purchase two Momentus XT drives, run them in a RAID 0 configuration, almost match the speed, and get eight times the storage. I don't know about you, but a terabyte of storage with speeds almost as fast an SSD, sure sounds great to me. When it comes to buying a hard drive, I look for price and for performance. On that note, I’m very impressed with Momentus XT. It’s been great testing this new device and I definitely recommend it.
Seagate Momentus XT 500GB ST95005620AS Review - Overclockers Club

A Guy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 May 2010   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult x64 - SP1/ Windows 8 Pro x64

That brings up a good point.

With 250, 320, and 500GB versions available in the beginning, any of these in RAID would be a tough price/speed combination to beat.

A better data drive to supplement an OS SSD as well.

Let's see, Gen2, 64 MB cache, 10 GB NAND flash cache, 1TB disk and 6Gbps SATA.
I'm sure there is an optimum balance in there somewhere.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 May 2010   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult x64 - SP1/ Windows 8 Pro x64

This is an interesting review by AnandTech.

Seagate's Momentus XT Reviewed, Finally a Good Hybrid HDD

Good range of hard drives compared to this new comer.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2010   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1

Yes Tom's did a nice review as well:

Tom's Hardware

What I take from this is, this is a hard drive, it's not to be compared to a SSD, but to other hard drives. When that comparison is made, it shines in comparison to available hard drives. I won't be switching as I'm happy with my HDD's, and am not just trying to boost my WEI scores, but if you are in the market, definitely something to consider. A Guy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2010   #6

Win 7 64 Pro

My gut tells me the window for hybrid drives is one year, at the most. Full SSD pricing is dropping pretty quickly and its inevitable that the general public will compare them in that manner.

I'm interested in SSD for the quiet factor
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #7

windows 7 PRO 64Bit

only 4 gb? pass ill save up for a real ssd unless WD puts out a 60GB/500GB hybrid lol
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2010   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1

I don't trust Seagate. Many of my friends and I had bad experiences with them... Crossing fingers for Western Digital's options.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jun 2010   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult x64 - SP1/ Windows 8 Pro x64

Switch the manufacturers around for me

All depends on user experience.

This is why it's a good thing that there are several manufacturers

Pick the brand you like, it's a great world with choices for everyone.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jun 2010   #10

7 Pro 64 Bit

It's like Mr. Myagi once said.
Walk on left side of road, safe.
Walk on right side of road, safe.
Walk in middle, sooner or later...squash, just like grape.

I agree...this niche will be gone in 1 year. Remember how much Raptors were when they first came out (I do...had to rush to the store and get one)...over 200 bucks for 36GB...boy, was that ever a deal.

Now look at them.

SSD will follow suit like everything in technology....better, faster and soon enough cheaper.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Seagate Tries for Hybrid Hard Drives Again With Momentus XT

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